Hibiscus flowers are not only beautiful, they might be good for your health. Drinking hibiscus tea may help reduce high blood pressure, and some of the healthy substances contained in the tea might work as antioxidants. Hibiscus is easy to find -- it’s a common ingredient in herbal tea blends, so if you have some herbal teas in your kitchen, you probably have some hibiscus already.
Several species of hibiscus are traditionally used for medicinal purposes, but Hibiscus sabdariffa is the variety used to make hibiscus tea. According to Natural Standard, an evidence-based collaborative group that reviews alternative therapies, Hibiscus sabdariffa has the most scientific research available. The flowers are harvested, dried and can be steeped as tea. Hibiscus sabdariffa is safe to drink as a tea, but speak to your doctor first if you want to use it therapeutically.
Hibiscus tea contains natural compounds called anthocyanins -- the same type of antioxidants found in blueberries. Antioxidants help prevent cellular damage when you’re exposed to things like smoke, pollution and rancid oils. They can also reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol readings.
High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is a risk factor for heart disease, so you want to keep your blood pressure at a normal healthy level. A research study published in 2010 in “The Journal of Nutrition” concluded that daily use of hibiscus tea might help treat hypertension, which is clinical jargon for high blood pressure. Subjects with mild hypertension who drank three servings of hibiscus tea every day saw a decrease in blood pressure. The servings were normal-sized -- about the same as what you’d get when you buy herbal tea blends at the grocery store.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body needs to make hormones, but having too much cholesterol is associated with heart disease. It's possible that some of the compounds in hibiscus tea might reduce cholesterol. A study published in “Phytomedicine” in 2010 found that hibiscus tea extracts reduced cholesterol levels in subjects with metabolic syndrome, which is the combination of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar.
Sheri Kay has a master's degree in human nutrition. She's the co-author of two books and has been a nutrition and fitness writer since 2004.